Sunday, December 28, 2008

Outgrowing His Toys

We've got a very big dog (at least that's what visitors think... we don't think he's quite big enough yet, hence the cheering every time he weighs in a little heavier than before).

In any case, with a big dog comes powerful teeth, and Avi the Destroyer has torn up his share of toys (sorry Marley... he's also torn up his share of your toys!). It's funny that he's still got his favorites, though. For example, he's had the squeaky tire form the picture above since he was a puppy. It no longer squeaks... and now he can crunch the entire toy tall-ways in his jaws. I'm sure if the rubber shows a single crack, a single sign of weakness Avi can exploit, it will be destroyed. For now, thank goodness for its elasticity!

It's just funny that the simplest toys keep him entertained.

By the way...

Fun Fact: The tire toy has a 4" diameter. Avi is approximately 8 tires tall and 11 tires long (from nose to tail).

Isn't it fun to measure in non-standard units?


Monday, December 22, 2008

First Snow

We haven't got much snow yet, but the one or two snow dusting have completely mystified Avi!

He also seems to be very interested in eating the snow, unless this is just a side effect of sniffing for a good place to do his business. It's entertaining to see him take a few steps, sniff the ground, then lick his nose (rinse, repeat...).

In all of the busyness of the holiday season we've also set up our Christmas tree and decorated it with ornaments. Avi's been excellent at not eating the pine needles, although he tail is quite destructive. His typical routine is to walk to the tree, sniff a branch, turn around, and wag his tail. ...let's just say we made sure the fragile ornaments were well above the tail line.

Looking forward to updating more often.

Happy holidays!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Defeated by Jolie

Avi met a new friend recently: Jolie, the pug puppy. Jen and Mark let us watch Jolie while she ran the grueling Marines Marathon. Little did Avi realize he was in for quite a marathon himself! He was quite surprised by her energy (at only a little over 8 weeks old) and I'm sure he was very confused at how something so small could move around so fast!

Jolie seized the opportunity to make her move... first darting to and fro in the living room, wearing Avi down.

...then swooping under his belly to nip at the backs of his legs.

And when Avi finally gave up and plopped down on the floor...

...she showed him who was the real boss :)

But really, we had a great time with little Jolie. She took down our colossus and charmed the pants off us.

One day Avi's going to have to realize just how big he is, but until that day... Jolie is the reigning victor.


Avi Settles In

We're settling in. Or perhaps we're settled. Either way, Avi is still growing! We've nearly hit 80 lbs (at almost 8 months) and we've got great space in and around our new house.

We've had the most fun walking Avi across the street to the high school where we can walk on the nature trail (and desperately try to avoid picking up deer ticks) and enjoy a great run around off the lease on their practice field. We've even accumulated a football and a tennis ball on , but he still loves playing with his Kong and chewing on his bone.

Of course, neither of us can get enough snuggle time with our boy. He's more than content to curl up beside ue (or around us) at any available opportunity.

It's good to be loved.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Checking Emails... together.

I was checking emails early this morning. As usual, my boy followed me out to the family room and took his spot on the couch behind me. What was new, however, was having Avi look over my shoulder while I worked.

Good thing my Mac has a built-in camera... and Avi is such a good sport.

Love that dog.


Saturday, September 27, 2008


As of 4:00pm today, Avi weighs in at exactly 66 pounds of solid Berner pup.



New House. Cold Floors. Excessive Sleeping.

On move-out day, the apartment was packed with boxes. Avi didn't have much space to move around, so he picked a spot to lay.
The new house, however, has plenty of open floor space for a boy to plop his bottom down. Avi seems to love the cool hardwood floors and the cold tiles at the back entrance.
Of course, he still saves a little love for Aimee and I each day. And we're never ones to turn down kisses.

Lovin' our boy and our new house!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moving. Watching. All these boxes!

Avi, sit.

Good boy.

Avi, ignore the boxes piling up and piling up as we prepare to move into our new house (isn't it incredibly exciting!!!).

. .

Good boy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sidewalk Berries

Poor boy. Shouldn't have gone after those sidewalk berries.

Master always pulls on the leash to avoid temptation. Always opens puppy jaws and fishes into puppy mouth to dislodge unwanted snacks.... but he was too sneaky.

Now he's paying the price. A rough (and messy) accident in his kennel. An upset stomach. A bad case of diarrhea.

At least it gave him an opportunity to add a little rice and canned pumpkin into his diet.

All better (and all active) now, but weary of the sidewalk berries.

As well he should be.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Present from the LeFebers

The LeFebers found a terrific Bernese Mountain Dog doll. Avi wasn't allowed to play with the doll, so he's just doing his thing... laying with his homies.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Avi at the Grammys

Last weekend was full of reunions and catching up with family.

Of course, we couldn't leave our pup out of the excitement, so we lovingly logged nearly 10 total hours of car-trekking through the Pennsylvania Alleghenies with Avi.

First, it was off to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Winner reunion. Grammy Winner was very happy to see us and she was astounded at our very large (and very affectionate ) (AND very willing to sleep on the concrete directly on top of my cousin's sidewalk chalk art) pup.

This also meant a chance for mom to see her favorite pup parading around the picnic tables while I snacked on some of her yummy chocolate chip cookies.

We then headed off to Mountain Top, PA to celebrate my Uncle Jim's birthday and see the Ayre-side of the family. Grammy Ayre recently got a puppy. Her sheltie pup is named Mimi and she is not nearly a quarter Avi's size... so Avi was quite a colossus in Mimi's eyes, which scared her for the first half of our visit.

Mimi found her opportunity to get a closer look at Avi while Avi rested on Grammy's kitchen floor.

Then she really got brave, nearly touching noses with our pup.

Honestly, he's so good with other dogs. Outside of a little conversational barking, he was more entranced with Mimi' energy than anything else. Mimi's energy was a little too much for him, but he gave chase to her for some brief time outside before retiring to sneak bites at the apples that had fallen from a nearby tree.

We need to visit more often.


Friday, August 8, 2008


We returned to the Phillips' household this week for an excellent break away from the apartment. They call it "dog and house sitting", but it's so much more about relaxing with the pups and catching up on our Zzz's.

Avi perfected his dead-to-the-world couch formation when Aimee was at work.And he cried like the mamma's boy he is whenever she was just out of reach.

Come to think of it, they all stuck pretty close to Aimee. (Barkley and Nicki are the most loving dogs ever! They rub off all the good traits on Avi!)
And what better way to wrap up a week away from home than in the company of a good friend. Joey is such a good sport with Avi. He allowed Avi to follow him all throughout the house without a single hiss or leap of escape.

Definitely not a tough week for this pup!


Avi, the Destroyer

It was bound to happen. We just didn't see it coming.

Avi woke me up at 5:30am to pee. I walked him. He hurried. We returned to the apartment and I gave him his breakfast. Then I went back to bed and left him to sleep on the tiles by the front door.

I woke up an hour later to an unfamiliar sound. This is what I saw:

We're guessing he was licking his fur off the carpet (yeah... he's gross :) and the cheap apartment carpet started coming up. After that it was an all-out nylon schmorgasbord that resulted in a hole approximately the size of a baseball cap.

But who can be mad at this guy?!
Needless to say, he now returns to his kennel whenever we're not out with him. He doesn't seem to mind it too much and we're very thankful that the carpet didn't hurt him.

There goes the security deposit.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dog Park

Yeah! Avi's old enough for the dog park!

After turning 4 months, getting his license and his rabbis shot, Avi is now able to go to BARC, the Baltimore County dog park in Glyndon... and what an awesome dog park it is! Running water. Lots of shade. Plenty of space to run around in. And SO many new dog buddies to socialize with!

Expect to see lots of new stories from our visits to BARC... after all... there are SO MANY new butts to sniff at the dog park! Now that our pup's learned that he can hold is own (though he's still a little nervous around the other dogs), he's starting to show his true colors. (AND he's starting to charm the pants off the other owners at the park!)

It's fun to play.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Greater Love

I was checking my emails. He was curious. I hit the record button. He was adorable. I made it into a movie.

Share and enjoy.

- Matthew

At the Beach

This weekend it was off to Stone Harbor, NJ for a few days at the beach. We traveled with some friends and, though dogs were not allowed on the beach, we still found quality time to spend with Avi. on Saturday, when he woke us up at 5:00 am to be walked and then refused to go back to sleep.
(Did I forget to mention that we spent the evening at the boardwalk at Wildwood and, even though we got back to the house and the dogs around midnight, we didn't actually go to bed until somewhere around 1:30am?!)

...or on Sunday, when he woke us up a litt
le past 4:15 am to be walked. This time I slept out on the couch following the walk while he slept below me.
(Oops... did I forget to mention that at around 6:30 am Aimee came out to lay with us. After sleeping for a little while, Avi woke Aimee up by pawing at her and acciden
tally scratching her then-open eye?!)

Aimee was an excellent sport and, after wiping away the tears of being temporarily maimed, she garnered a bandaged eye patched and concealed beneath her sunglasses during a day of shop-hopping in Stone Harbor.

On the bright side, Avi had a chance to run around a fenced yard with Eza, a weimaraner/chocolate lab mix who is able to tear through squeaky toy ducks and seamlessly wear down once-thought-indestructible Nylabones if given an unsupervised chance. She was a quick lady and Avi only managed to hump her hip one time.

Poor boy. She was a good sport, but he just doesn't understand how to charm a lady yet.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Peed On

Just when Avi was finally settling in with our best dog buddy, Ben, the poor Berner was subjected to a vicious, degrading act of hate and... oh... who are we kidding?! The boy is just too curious for his own good, and this time his curiosity led to getting peed on.... in the face.

Avi, a good soldier and never one to leave a man behind, was going back to check on Benjamin while Ben was lifting his leg to water the plants on the hill. Avi walked into the line of fire and, needless to say, was recklessly gunned down. (okay, okay... it was just a stream across the nose... but it was a hit, regardess!)

The remaining walk back to the apartment was uneventful, aside from Aimee desperately avoiding Avi as tried to nuzzle up against her. (before we cleaned his nose, of course!)

Well... that was certainly a new experience!


Friday, July 4, 2008

Heaven Must Be Missin' an Angel

Our buddy Angel has been spending the week at Casa de Winner. NOTE: Her super-curly hair feels even cooler when she lays under your bare feet!

It's been kinda nice to have a labradoodle on call for that much-needed doggy affection, and Angel is just the girl for the job! She gives kisses all the time... never excluding just after she belches, following sniffing Avi's rear end, or even after she's groomed herself.

It took the two a little bit of time to grow accustomed to one another (Angel has spent time at our place before, and has met Avi before, but never both of these exciting experiences at the same time). He tried to exercise dominance. She stole some of his toys. They both took their shots at peeing on the puppy bed. But eventually, somewhere around day 3, they just gave up and played.

She plays very well with him, taking turns pinning him to the ground then letting Avi exercise his strength. Avi's favorite attack-combo was to strike for her collar, pull the belt away from the clasp, and then parade around the apartment with his Ultimate Fighting Championship belt, her red collar, dangling from his mouth.

All-in-all, it's been a great experience. It's actually funny that Avi, a 4-month old berner, is not much smaller than Angel, who's a little over 2 years old... yet he plays like he's already a giant among men.

What a goober.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Avi, give kisses.

Hope this works.

Avi was cuddling with Aimee when she asked him for "kisses", which is usually his cue to stop biting at her face and arms. On this occasion, however, he had a different agenda in mind.



Monday, June 23, 2008


Faint of heart... Beware! We've got a poo-eater on our hands!

Avi spotted a devoured a fresh pile of doggie doodoo and snatched it up in his mouth before Aimee could stop him. We were on our way to the car for a trip to our friend's house when he spotted the heap, gobbled up and, needless to say, foiled Aimee's attempts to fish out the feces from his jowels.

We had read that some dog's have an aversion to eating poo. What a curious dog habit! In any case, the canine Hershey kiss shown above is all that remained after Avi's attack.

What a little kid!


Thursday, June 19, 2008


We hit crisis mode yesterday for probably the first time of Avi's life.

Aimee took Avi to the vet for his 3-month check-up and to get his distemperment shots. What should have been a normal visit, aside from the vet alerting Aimee that Avi has a "hard bite" (no surprise) which is a "bad trait", turned to panic nearly two hours after the visit.

Avi had an allergic reaction to the shot, causing his whole body to swell up... eyes closed, lips and gums swollen, pads puffed to the point that he could not walk. She called the vet, got Avi some Benedryl (upon their suggestion), then called me. Because the swelling was not going down nearly an hour after taking the medicine, we took Avi back to the vet.

To make a long story short, he now has to get an additional shot before getting these vaccinations in order to counteract an allergic reaction.

...but our little guy is okay... and that is what matters most.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shout Out

No picture today...

...just a shout out to the Watts family and to Kelly, their 6-month old black lab.

Aimee was beaming about yesterday, when Avi met this new friend... and, evidently, she really liked Avi, too! Aimee said that this was hands-down the best interaction Avi has had with any other dog yet (and we're up to about 25 new friends since bringing him home from Reading, PA).

Sounds like Avi may have a new BFF!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Giant Puppy

Avi is officially a giant puppy, weighing in at 29.6 lbs as he celebrates his 11-week birthday.

To put things in perspective, he weighed 5 lbs when we picked him out at 4-weeks old and had already reached 18 lbs when we brought him home at 8 weeks.

Bear cub.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Avi's Favorite Toy

Since coming home from Reading, PA, Aimee and I have established different relationships with Avi. Now, as our pup is a solid 11 weeks old, we are seeing the fruits of our labors.

I've been stern and "boring" with Avi. I pet him when he's at his sleepiest and when he's in a playful mood, I always make sure there's a toy close at hand.

Aimee, on the other hand, has been the "fun" one. She runs around with Avi. They play "chase". He barks. He totally loves playing with this girl.

Long story short... Aimee is Avi's favorite chew toy. He chases her around. He bites at her clothes. He bites holes in her skirts. Bite. Bite. Bite. Scratch. Scab. Scar. He completely goes after her like she is the best toy ever invented.

Aimee doesn't think it's so funny (although when Avi comes at her she always laughs hysterically)... but I know she cherishes the special bond she shares with our pup.

More bites. More joy.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Drew's Song

A, he's so adorable
V, because he's valiant
I, he's irresistible

Avi, Avi, Avi

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Other Dogs

Avi's met a lot of dogs in the past two weeks, including a slew of dogs in our apartment complex. He's also met nearly all of the family pets, including Molly, Snickers, and Piper. (Zoe wasn't around, but I'm sure he, like Snickers, will be startled by Avi's sheer size!)

Better yet, Avi got to meet Ben, Zach and Kristin's akita mix. We love Ben. He's a fantastic dog and he put Avi in his place. He's still a little apprehensive around our energetic pup, but Avi seems to love Ben's company.

Other dogs have had mixed reactions to Avi. Molly didn't seem to into Avi, so Avi just chilled outside my parent's house. Lots of fun playing in the yard and chasing Drew and Tara around a tree.

Meanwhile, Piper and Snickers spent quality time with Avi outside of Aimee's mom's house. Snickers was intimidated by Avi's bear-like stature, but Piper seemed to like him quite a bit.

And that's the way all dogs are reacting to him... they either seem really interested in him, or they want to bark at him and run away. On the other hand, Avi seems to be interested in other dogs, if not at least entertained... but he hasn't shown any sign of fear or intimidation to any of them.

...Maybe they can sense his future as a colossus.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Boy Bites

No kidding... This kid's got teeth!

SHARP teeth!

It seems he's teething on everything he can, including the legs of the coffee table, the straps of our laptop bags, the basket holding his toys, the door stop, our fingers, our ankles, our arms, our socks, the bottom of our pants legs, the sleeves of our shirts and jackets, and, his NEW favorite, Aimee's colorful, flowing skirts.

Never mind the fact that he's got some wonderful chew toys including his absolute favorite: Duck.

At four months he should lose his puppy teeth. Our friends have said that his teething should subside when he's got his adult teeth, but for the next two months be prepared to be chomped if you stop by to visit.

So for now... bite, bite, BITE!

What a charmer!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Learning to Love a Crate

Avi vs. the Crate (Round 1)

So we're trying to crate-train Avi to be used to going into his kennel at night for bed... "trying" being the operative word here.

The first night we brought him home, we placed Avi in the crate, said "Avi, kennel. Good boy!", offering lots of praise in order to help reinforce the command, and then attempted to sleep through a little over 30 minutes of whimpering and restrained barks.

The good news, if you're so inclined, is that he woke me up at 4:35 the next morning to pee. He didn't pee in his crate!

Avi and His Powerful Back Legs (Round 2)

On the second night Avi learned how to backpedal and attempted very earnestly to keep the kennel door from shutting. However, his crying didn't last as long and, once again, he slept well through the night.

A Fight Then Goodnight (Round 3)

Two nights ago Avi put up his usual fight to go into the crate, but then immediately lay down and rested... as though giving up and realizing that crying is worthless if he thinks we're going to let him back out.

But being the loving new-puppy owners that we are, we were completely devastated to have to struggle to get him into his crate in addition to hearing his whiny sobs from inside the kennel.

How can we make this puppy like his kennel, his crate, his den (feeding into his pack instincts)?

Making a Kennel into an Enviable Hang-Out Place (Round 4)

A number of friends said we just needed to hang in there and Avi would eventually get used to the crate. Two weeks seems to be the magic number.

But our dog expert pals all told us we should be proactive by finding ways to make Avi want to spend time in the crate. Why would he want to do that, you might ask?! Well, here are the things we're testing out in order to win him over:

1. Dinner in the Den - We're working on luring Avi into the crate by serving his meals in the crate and, meal by meal, moving the dishes further and further back into the kennel.
2. Playtime in the Pen - We're also trying to get Avi to play with his toys (or at least retrieve the toys) in his kennel. We've placed his toy basket outside his kennel door, but he hasn't yet chanced the move to retrieve a toy (we only started trying this out tonight).
3. Treats in the Toys - We've also been placing one of his favorite toys in the crate and hiding treats in it to give him something to work at to wear himself out.
4. Wear the Puppy Out! - One of our best allies has been exhaustion because no puppy sleeps better than Avi when he's worn out from some quality play time.

Things are on the up-and-up. It's only been five days with Avi and already we've seen changes. He's adjusting to new owners. We're adjusting to having a puppy. And we're both growing closer together.

I love that dog!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Avi, Hurry!

1. Stand like a tree.
2. "Avi, hurry."

Thank you, Michele for teaching us "hurry".

Within the first hour of being home with Avi he peed twice on the carpet. But we followed our good friend (and CCI puppy raiser) Michele's advise and we scooped him up, took him down to the grass outside, laid him down, said "Avi, hurry", then PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE. And believe it or not, the following two times that he peed, we made it all the way downstairs to the grass and were able to give him the command! What great puppy progress!

And while we're on this note of thanks, Aimee and I need to extend our overflowing gratitude to the following people for the tremendous support they've already given in helping us prepare for our new Berner:

1. Michele, Lisa, and DeLea -
Avi loves his new toys, the treats, and his tasty food from Bark (where we will now be going for *everything puppy* we might need). Aimee and I love that his fur now smells slightly of lavender thanks to the shampoo you gave us. Well done!

2. Judith -
He's not absolutely keen on it yet, but the kennel you're letting us borrow is perfect for our little guy.

3. Mrs. D and Mrs. H's Kindergarten class -
The toys you picked out are perfect and our little guy seems to love tug toys... excellent choices!

4. Emma and Abby -
What a wonderful surprise to receive such thoughtful puppy housewarming gifts! Avi thanks you warmly with Berner kisses.

5. Wendy -
Over and over (in advance) for offering a home away from home for Avi to stay while Aimee and I are at school. I know he'll just love your abode and we already love that we don't have to be so far away while at work.

6. Everyone else -
What terrific love our new addition has already received, and you haven't even met him yet! Thank you for pouring out your love and support for us. It's always recognized and we're *always* grateful for it!

And now, it's time to catch a few Zzz's while the little one naps.


Welcome Home, Avi!

We brought Avi home yesterday, Friday, May 9th.

The drive to Reading was near excruciating... what with the on and off rain, the numerous accidents backing up traffic, missing our exit in York, and eating some terrible food that gave us both terrible indigestion. Oh, but the butterflies were bouncing around in both of our stomaches, making the additional hour and a half in the car seem less significant to the life we'll have to share with our new Berner puppy.

Avi's mom seemed to have a difficult time letting him go. She and a second pup were upstairs with us while we were completing the paperwork with Carol and Tim. The other puppy, a girl named Swiss Kiss, was affectionately playing with us while Avi spread out on the kitchen floor in his best impression of a surfboard, front paws tucked beneath his pointed snout and back legs stretched out straight.

Aimee sat in the backseat with Avi on our drive home and enjoyed some fun one-on-one time while Avi climbed over her to check out the windows and to demonstrate how sharp his puppy teeth are.

When we arrived home we made sure we thoroughly wore him out with lots of love and playing with his new toys.

We also gave Avi a bath and showed him his bed and his kennel. He wasn't too keen on the bath or being alone in the kennel... but his has absolutely fallen for his bed.

Aimee's sister dropped by for a visit, but by that point Avi was completely tuckered out. I laid with him on his bed and ended up falling asleep myself with my hand laying on his fuzzy belly. When it was time for Aimee and I to go to bed, we lad Avi into his kennel and shut the gate, then I laid on the floor with my fingers in the crate while he cried a little then lay down. We took him out to pee before laying him down for good, but when he returned to his kennel he was full of puppy dog cries. Aimee laid with him for a while to comfort him and reassure him that she was near.

Overall, we lost a little sleep... but that was nothing for all that we gained!

- Matthew

Our Reading Berner

No, no, no.... he can't read. You're pronouncing it wrong :)

We traveled to Reading, PA (pronouced like "Yesterday I *read* a book.") four weeks ago to select a Bernese Mountain Dog pup from a litter of six.

How do you choose?!

Of the two boys and four girls, one with a stripe running down his neck charmed the pants off of us. We played with the pups for a little over an hour and then, after calling dibs on "striper" (as they aptly named him), we made the long drive home to Owings Mills, MD.

Good thing we brought our camera (or perhaps bad thing for everyone we ran into over the past four weeks). We've shown of our new little guy to nearly every relative, friend, and colleague who's shown even the slightest hint of curiosity.

We're getting a Berner. We know our life won't ever be the same.

- Matthew

Avi Wordle

Wordle: Avi's Berner Blog